Bucs' offense used successful pass-first approach
The Bucs have talked for months about fielding an offense in which a successful running game sets up opportunities to throw the ball deep.
And then Sunday happened.
The Bucs took a decidedly opposite approach in their win against the Chiefs, burying Kansas City with throws down the field that ultimately opened up opportunities in the running game. And, according to players, that was the plan all along.
“When they’re throwing eight (defenders) in the box because they think their corners can cover, we have to make big plays so they can start taking people out the box and we can run the ball,” receiver Mike Williams said. “That’s basically what they did yesterday. They put eight in the box and put pressure on their corners. Then, in the second half, they went back to back to the 2-high (safeties) and the running game opened. We like that, too.”
Williams was a part of the reason the formula was successful, catching a 62-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against single coverage. Only 47 of the Bucs’ 145 rushing yards came before halftime, when there were limited opportunities to run against 6- or 7-man fronts.
Then, with the damage done by quarterback Josh Freeman and his receivers, the Chiefs changed their strategy.
“We saw a lot of man (coverage) earlier and then they backed off to zone,” Williams said.
Enter Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount, the running back duo combining for 97 rushing yards in the second half alone.
“We want to throw the ball down the field and take our shots, but after halftime we wanted to put a great emphasis on the running game and finish the game with a win,” Martin said. “I thought me and LeGarrette did an awesome job as a tandem.”
Said Blount: “It’s great just having that weapon at wide receiver to go down the field and open up the running game for us. It turned into a really fun game. We got into a rhythm. . . We stuck to the game plan. The plan to come out and do what we did.”
Whether this continues is likely to be determined by the defenses the Bucs are shown in the weeks to come. But it’s likely we could see this again, even though it’s not exactly the way the Bucs envisioned things working out when the season began.